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High schools nationwide can compete for a chance to have President Obama speak at their graduation ceremony, but few are bothering this year, according to leaked White House memos. More than 1,000 high schools entered the contest last year, but only 68 had applied as of Feb. 28, when a memo warning, "Something isn't working," was issued. The White House extended the deadline and now says "a large number" of schools have applied, but won't supply an exact tally. Why aren't high schools leaping at the opportunity to score an Obama appearance? (Watch a CBS report about the competition)

The thrill is gone: Maybe the contest is such a "complete bust" this year because the high schoolers have realized that they're the ones who will have to pay back Obama's "mountain of debt," says Dana Pretzer at Scared Monkeys. With Obama's celebrity "magic" obviously fading, even among the young, the White House should have thought this contest out before exposing Obama to such "public embarrassment."
"The Obama magic is gone"

This is just an Ishtar-level "marketing flop": Obama critics are having fun claiming that this fiasco is proof of "Obama's waning popularity," says Elspeth Reeve at National Journal. But the real problem has been a terrible promotional campaign, reminiscent of that for the "box office bomb Ishtar." Web videos and social outreach are fine, but the White House should have chosen Justin Bieber as a spokesperson instead of Nick Jonas. Worse, relying on Congress to get the word out is a recipe for "boring press releases."
"An anatomy of a White House marketing flop"

Perhaps the schools are embarrassed: This year's application requires schools to demonstrate how they've successfully prepared their students for college, say the editors of HyperVocal. Maybe so many schools are insecure about their failure to do so adequately "that they haven't bothered trying to enter."
"WTF? No one wants Obama?"